Local Woman, 36, Strangled By “Pet” Python

“She had a real passion for snakes. That was a big issue for her.”

Journal & Courier

Oct. 31, 2019

OXFORD, Ind. – A 36-year-old woman died Wednesday after she was found with an 8-foot snake wrapped around her neck in a house owned by Benton County Sheriff Don Munson and set up specifically for a collection of snakes.

Laura Hurst apparently kept snakes in the house about 25 miles northwest of Lafayette, Sgt. Kim Riley, an Indiana State Police spokesman, said.

Munson, who lives next door to the house, told the J&C Thursday afternoon that he found Hurst in the blue ranch house with the snakes on Wednesday evening.

Riley said Hurst was found on the floor at 8:51 p.m. Wednesday.

Riley said the reticulated python was wrapped loosely around the woman’s neck.

The person who found her was able to unwrap the python but was unable to revive her.

Riley said the cause of death would be determined during an autopsy, scheduled for Friday:

“She appears to have been strangled by the snake. We do not know that for a fact until after the autopsy.”

Munson told the J&C that Hurst’s death was a “tragic accident with loss of human life.” He said he was “being fully cooperative with everybody.”

Coroner Matt Rosenbarger referred all questions to Indiana State Police.

Munson told the J&C the woman’s death was a “tragic accident with loss of human life.” He said he was “being fully cooperative with everybody.”

“I’ve given all information to the state police,” Munson told the J&C.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office dispatch also referred calls to ISP.

Riley said the house contained 140 snakes.

“She apparently had snakes there, herself,” Riley said.

Marcel Katz, a Lafayette attorney who was handling her divorce case, said snakes were a big enough thing for Hurst that it factored into negotiations over possessions.

“She had a real passion for snakes,” Katz said. “That was a big issue for her … ” Read more. 

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